Since 2001 in the U.S., Congress deemed October as Family History Month. If you’re new to genealogy it’s the perfect time to get acquainted with your local society as many offer free events that will help you get on the fast track. Next Saturday, my county group is hosting a get started event at a mid county library. A neighboring county has provided free scanning of heirloom photos and documents, overcoming brick wall help and youth activities to get the next generation involved. How to find these events? Check your local library and historical museums, the newspaper and Facebook.
If you are a well seasoned genealogist then it’s your turn to step up and assist at one of the offered events. Sharing your expertise, I’ve found, is rewarding on so many levels. You’ve exercised your brain muscles and experienced the joy that comes with helping someone solve a mystery. You may even find a connection to your own family!
If you’re unable to attend an upcoming event, you can celebrate in a variety of ways. This year, by posting my husbands, adult child and my dna on several sites, I’ve connected with many 2nd and 3rd cousins I would never have been able to do locally. In just the past 2 weeks, I’ve had 3 photos of my dad from World War II mailed to me. I’d never seen these photos before and would never have viewed them if I hadn’t posted my dna results. Last October, a family member of my mother’s closest friend found me online and sent me a copy of my wedding announcement. Sure, I had one, but it was special to know that someone besides family had treasured it for over 40 years. Over the summer, a cousin on my husband’s side was preparing to renovate and discovered letters that had been sent to her grandmother that were written by my husband’s grandmother. She mailed them to us. I highly recommend having your dna done and posting it but be forewarned – if you aren’t able to emotionally handle the horror that might result in finding out you aren’t who you thought you were then skip the test! Ironic, isn’t it, that Family History Month starts with warm autumn days and ends with Halloween night.
Another celebration idea is to pull out your old photo albums and using a stickee, tab the pages with 12 of your favorite photos. I’ve used them in a rotating frame in my office as they make me smile and put me in the right mood to research that particular line. If you are a paper calendar type, then use the photos to replace the ones that came with it or have a company make one professionally for you. Sometimes you can get bulk pricing with the extras being given as family gifts for the upcoming holidays.
Last week I wrote about heirloom cookbooks. If you checked any you own, make a dish this month that your family had enjoyed. You’d be surprised how the smell and texture of food can bring back an old memory and just might provide the hint you need to move forward with your research.
Three simple ideas for the three weeks left in this month (where is the time going?!) Enjoy!